- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2008


Freed journalist thought of suicide

HONG KONG — A Hong Kong journalist imprisoned in mainland China on charges of espionage denied yesterday he had worked as a spy for Taiwan and said he was so depressed while in custody that he contemplated suicide.

Speaking in public for the first time since his unexpected release from prison two weeks ago, Ching Cheong said the charges that he had tried to sell state secrets to Taiwan were unfounded.

Mr. Ching, a Hong Kong-based correspondent for Singapore’s the Straits Times newspaper, was arrested in 2005 and sentenced at a one-day trial to five years in prison. He was released on parole two weeks ago after serving more than 1,000 days.


Opposition backers claim vote fraud

YEREVAN — Tens of thousands of opposition supporters returned to the streets of Armenia’s capital yesterday to galvanize support for their claim that the presidential election was rigged.

Election officials said that Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian — the favored successor of outgoing President Robert Kocharian — received almost 53 percent of the vote, enough to win Tuesday’s election.

Opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian won 21.5 percent. Opponents have said the election was marred by widespread violations and violence targeting opposition activists who monitored the vote.


Time chafes at libel award

JAKARTA — Time magazine asked Indonesia’s Supreme Court yesterday to reverse an earlier ruling that ordered the publication to pay $106 million for an article that purportedly defamed former dictator Suharto.

Time ran a cover story in its Asian edition in May 1999 saying the family of Suharto — who died last month at the age of 87 — amassed billions of dollars during his 32-year rule and stashed much of it overseas.

Time won two earlier court challenges to the story, but in August the Supreme Court reversed those rulings.

Suharto, who like many Indonesians used only one name, seized power in a 1965 coup that left up to half a million people dead. He ruled the country for the next three decades, killing or imprisoning hundreds of thousands of political opponents.


Ferry sinks after collision

SAO PAULO — A ferryboat carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a barge carrying fuel tanks and sank to the bottom of the Amazon River yesterday, officials said. At least three persons died, and another 20 were missing and feared dead.

The Almirante Monteiro capsized at dawn near the isolated Brazilian town of Itacoatiara in the jungle state of Amazonas, state fire spokesman Lt. Clovis Araujo said.

He said 92 persons were rescued by several small boats and the state’s floating police station.


Rare earthquake hits Arctic shore

OSLO — A magnitude-6.2 earthquake, the largest ever recorded on Norwegian territory, hit off the Arctic Svalbard islands early yesterday, the national seismic monitoring center said. No casualties or damage were reported.

The quake could have been catastrophic if it had hit a more densely populated area, said Conrad Lindholm, senior researcher of the seismic institute NORSAR.

“This is extremely rare,” Mr. Lindholm said by telephone, adding it was the strongest quake in Norway since it started taking records about a century ago.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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